Welcome to Sicily! Considered a continent itself, it’s the largest island in the Mediterranean and welcomes many visitors each and every year to enjoy its culture and of course, its wine.
Known as a food and wine paradise, the island has remained intact for more than 3,000 years. Located at the ‘toe of Italy’s boot’ it is and has been the crossroads between Europe, Africa and the Middle East. From churches and vineyards to architecture and food it is a very unique place in the world. Sun-kissed and worth traveling to, it is a place that is hard to forget and exciting to explore.
From the Phoenicians, to the Greeks and Romans, to the Muslims and Spaniards, Sicily is a mosaic of cultures. A host to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, here, while traveling you can sip and savour while discovering Sicily’s ancient past. Influenced by the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Spanish and the French the wine, food and sights are diverse and delicious.
Did you know that Julias Caesar truly enjoyed the wines from Sicily and the most common food pairing with the local wines is swordfish? The Greeks arrived in Sicily around the 8th century BC and archeological evidence suggests that winemaking in Sicily dates back to the 4th millennium BC and to this day wine culture is alive and thriving with young winemakers changing up tradition and contributing to its future.
Sicily is quite an adventure so to help you get whisked away to this fascinating region, here are the top six things to understand about the region, and their wines.
Denomination of Origin
The Sicilia DOC is the first organization in the history of Sicily that has been created to promote and preserve the island’s indigenous grape varieties, share the island’s wine story with consumers, and safeguard the reputation of The Controlled Denomination of Origin (DOC) and Sicilia DOC was officially recognized on 22 November 2011.
Sicily is the first region in Italy dedicated to organic agricultural production, resulting in excellence in what is in your glass. Sustainable by nature, many wineries and wine bottles say organic on the label. With wine made from ancient roots and indigenous grapes this is a modern wine region built on a historical legacy.
A beautiful island sitting in the Mediterranean, the terroir where vines are grown in SIcily is fascinating. Black lava terrain merges with the white of the salt flats, vineyards are planted on hillsides, and vineyards are exposed to the Sicilian winds. A unique landscape for grapes to thrive and produce lively and enchanting wines.
Nero d’Avola is the King of Red Wine
One of the Mediterranean’s most regal red wines, the indigenous grape Nero d’Avola dates back thousands of years. Nero, means black and d’Avola translates to “of Avola” a town where the grape is still planted today. A new generation of winemakers who are winning accolades around the world for the wines’ elegance and drinkability. Known as the ‘King of Sicily’, it is a rich red wine, embodying an elegant ruby color in the glass with notes of floral and spice. Often compared to Grenache, Syrah and/or Cabernet Sauvignon, Nero d’Avola shares the same affinity for oak aging. It can be soft and easy drinking when made in stainless steel or extremely velvety, deep and warm when oak aged. It is best enjoyed when served at 16 – 18°C.
Grillo is the Queen of White Wine
One of the best-known Sicilian grapes. Grillo is the ‘Queen of Sicily’ and dates back as far as 1874. A crossing between Cattaratto and Zibibbo, it makes the perfect aperitivo wine. One of the most important white grapes of Sicily and cultivated on the island since the second half of the 19th century it is a versatile white wine that is being embraced by winemakers. From fresh and light to aromatic and structured it you’ll see Grillo popping up on wine lists, retail shelves and dining tables everywhere as the wave of appreciation heightens for this grape and region. Known as a sassy, grassy cousin to Sauvignon Blanc, Grillo has notes of floral and citrus and a fresh, savoury, and salty finish. Best served at 8-10°C.
Local Food Pairings
Effortlessly transport your dining experience to the island of Sicily with a few locally inspired pairings. As an island you’ll find Sicily revels in fresh seafood and a glass of wine is never far away. Whether it’s grilled shrimp, salmon, sashimi, or grilled swordfish grilled to medium and served with a simple, briny, herbal relish of capers, olives, almonds, herbs, peppers and olive oil, the fare of the sea can be perfectly complemented with a glass of Grillo.
When it comes to Nero d’Avola, try uncorking a bottle and pairing it with savory, subtly spiced dishes. Charcuterie, antipasti dishes, grilled and roasted meats, medium-aged cheeses and mushroom risotto are always a great option.